This Rocket Is Going to Mars with NASA's MAVEN Probe (Photos)

by Miriam Kramer, Staff Writer
This Rocket Is Going to Mars with NASA's MAVEN Probe (Photos)
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The Atlas 5 rocket set to carry MAVEN into space standing on its launch pad. Photo released Nov. 16, 2013.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The Atlas 5 rocket set to take NASA's next Mars probe into space Monday is on the launch pad. Earlier today (Nov. 16) the United Launch Alliance rocket housing the space agency's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft (MAVEN) rolled out onto the pad in preparation for the launch.

The 188-foot-rocket (57.3 meters) is scheduled to lift off from here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 1:28 p.m. EST (1828 GMT) on Monday. At the moment, there is a still a 60 percent chance that weather will be favorable for the afternoon launch. You can watch the launch live on SPACE.com via NASA TV.

Once launched, MAVEN will spend about 10 months in transit to Mars, where it will then collect data about how the Red Planet became the cold desert studied today. Research suggests that Mars was one a wet world, but the influence of the sun and other factors caused the planet to lose its atmosphere. MAVEN is making its journey to Mars to more fully understand those changes. [See more photos from NASA's MAVEN mission to Mars]

Visit SPACE.com for the latest MAVEN news, photos and videos. You can also follow MAVEN coverage through the Mission Status Center at SPACE.com's partner, Spaceflight Now.

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